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Meat alternatives take criticism — from environmentalists

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on July 5, 2018

A new report from Friends of the Earth calls into question the environmental benefits attributed to meat analogs and lab-grown animal products, and emphasizes the need for more research. “Second-generation, lab-created animal protein replacement products are not yet proven to be safe or sustainable by regulators or via transparent, independent third-party assessments. Rather, there are increasing concerns and questions that remain unanswered, and existing analyses show that these products may be problems masquerading as solutions,” the report said.

Impossible Burger and the Road to Consumer Distrust

EcoWatch | Posted on July 5, 2018

For anyone who wonders why consumers aren't inspired to trust the GMO industry, consider this bizarre statement from Impossible Foods Chief Communications Officer Rachel Konrad in defense of the Impossible Burger, a veggie burger made more meat-like via genetically engineered yeast.Konrad was upset by a June 27 Bloomberg article Is it too early for fake meat? that raised concerns about insufficient research, regulation and labeling in the realm of new food technologies.Konrad took to Medium, blasting critics of the Impossible Burger as "anti-science fundamentalists" and "setting the record straight" with information she sourced from chemical industry front groups and other unreliable anti-consumer messengers who regularly communicate inaccurate information about science. Konrad's article also links to a column by Ted Nordhaus, who sits on the board of the parent organization of Genetic Literacy Project, a chemical industry propaganda group that attacks cancer scientists as part of its role as an "industry partner" in Monsanto's public relations strategy to protect Roundup weed killer from cancer concerns.

The U.S. has too much milk on its hands — so its cheese stockpile just hit an all-time high

Regina Leader Post | Posted on July 5, 2018

The United States has amassed its largest stockpile of cheese in the 100 years since regulators began keeping tabs, the result of booming domestic production of milk and consumers’ waning interest in the dairy beverage.The 1.39 billion-pound stockpile, tallied by the Agriculture Department last week, represents a 6 percent increase over this time last year and a 16 percent increase since an earlier surplus prompted a federal cheese buy-up in 2016.Analysts say warehouse stocks have swelled because processors have too much milk on their hands, and milk is more easily stored as cheese. Demand has also fallen as school cafeterias close for the summer and restaurants wind down the cheesy specials they offer in the winter and early spring.

Citizens Petition To Require FDA to Designate Eggs as “Healthy”

Poultry Producer | Posted on July 5, 2018

Jesse Laflamme, CEO of Pete and Gerry’s Organics is to be complimented on his initiative to file a citizens petition with the FDA to amend the definition of “healthy”. The FDA considers that eggs are too high in total and saturated fat and cholesterol to be designated “healthy” by food processors. In contrast, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services consider eggs to be a part of a “healthy diet”. Current knowledge of nutrition has proven that dietary cholesterol does not raise serum cholesterol to any appreciable degree in consumers without a genetic predisposition to hypercholesterolemia. The petition filed by Jesse Laflamme emphasizes the nutritional value of eggs and the contribution of Vitamin D and choline.

Impossible Burger sets off debate in NZ

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on July 4, 2018

Air New Zealand announced this week that it would be the first airline to serve the Impossible Burger, as part of its Business Premier menu on selected flights from Los Angeles to Auckland — and immediately drew fire from that country’s Prime Minister and others. Critics were particularly unhappy with the airline’s investment in a video about the new offering, and a program to host journalists on a trip to the U.S. to promote the Impossible Burger and its maker, Redwood City, Calif.-based Impossible Foods."Air New Zealand is an airline built by the New Zealand taxpayer, was privatized, was bailed out by the New Zealand taxpayer, and is there because of the taxpayer. Some of the taxpayers are the farming industry who want to ensure they get top end of the product market offshore and our airline should be its No. 1 marketer," Peters is quoted as saying.For its part, the chief executive of Beef+Lamb New Zealand said the airline should at least promote local meat to the same extent it has promoted the U.S.-based plant alternative.

Is It Too Early for Fake Meat?

Bloomberg | Posted on June 28, 2018

It’s possible you’ve heard of the Impossible Burger. Heralded as a bleeding veggie patty that looks, tastes and even sizzles like meat, the product is sold in almost 2,000 restaurants—stretching across the bun-slinging continuum from Bareburger to White Castle.But not everyone is in cheeseburger paradise. Environmental organization Friends of the Earth, which claims 1 million U.S. members and activists and is part of an advocacy network spanning 74 nations, raised a red flag about the speedy advance of such food technology. Specifically, the group pointed to companies including Impossible Foods—maker of its eponymous burger—as well as Perfect Day and Memphis Meats, which develop animal-free dairy and lab-grown meat, respectively.The nonprofit group warned in a report Wednesday that the advent of genetically engineered proteins and lab-made meat hasn’t been accompanied by enough research, and that increased safety assessments, regulations and transparent labeling should be put in place.

Mandatory Labels Reduce GMO Food Fears

University of Vermont | Posted on June 28, 2018

s the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepares guidelines for labeling products that contain genetically modified ingredients, a new study from the University of Vermont reveals that a simple disclosure can improve consumer attitudes toward GMO food. Led by Jane Kolodinsky, an applied economist in UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the study compared levels of consumer opposition to GMO foods in Vermont – the only U.S. state to have implemented a mandatory labeling policy – with consumer attitudes in the rest of the U.S. The analysis showed opposition to GMO food fell by 19% in Vermont after the implementation of mandatory labels. The study is the first to examine the real-world impact of consumer attitudes toward GMO foods in a state where consumers were exposed to mandatory GMO labels. “Our findings put to bed the idea that GMO labels will be seen as a warning label,” said Kolodinsky, professor and chair of the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics and a Fellow of UVM’s Gund Institute for the Environment. “What we’re seeing is that simple disclosures, like the ones implemented in Vermont, are not going to scare people away from these products.”

Why consolidating food safety efforts won't work

Food Safety News | Posted on June 28, 2018

The Trump administration on June 21 unveiled an ambitious plan to consolidate federal food safety efforts within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Currently, 15 agencies throughout the federal government administer 35 different laws related to food safety under the oversight of nine congressional committees. The administration calls this system “illogical” and “fragmented.” Concern about this state of affairs has been fueling similar consolidation proposals for decades. But my research for a forthcoming book on the U.S. food safety system suggests that the Trump administration plan faces a number of challenges that make a major reorganization of federal food safety regulation both impractical and undesirable. Why food safety regulation is so complicated.The curious division of labor between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration dates back to the passage of two laws enacted in 1906. First of all, the many congressional committees that currently oversee agencies that regulate food safety are unlikely to support any reorganization that would reduce their power. Congressional oversight affords lawmakers who serve on committees opportunities to help interest groups and constituents in exchange for political support.Similarly, industry associations are unlikely to support a reorganization that would disrupt their relationships with existing agencies. Consolidation threatens to reduce their access and influence over agency decisions.In addition to the political obstacles to consolidation, there are practical problems. Merely merging the 5,000 food safety officials in the FDA and the 9,200 officials in the FSIS under the oversight of a single administrator would not eliminate the differences in jurisdiction, powers and expertise responsible for the current bureaucratic fragmentation. Meaningful consolidation would require a complete overhaul of federal food safety laws and regulations, a task of extraordinary legal and political complexity.Moreover, consolidating food safety efforts in a single agency might create new forms of fragmentation. For example, transferring the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine’s program for regulating drug residues in beef and poultry to the USDA would separate it from the FDA’s veterinary drug approval program.And finally, reorganization is costly and would take years for the different agency teams newly working together to develop bonds of trust and cooperation. And these costs would have to be paid upfront, without a clear idea of whether the expected gains will ever pay off.

Wisconsin dairy farmers brace for cheese tariff impact

TMJ4 | Posted on June 28, 2018

Wisconsin cheese makers have found themselves caught in the middle of an escalating trade war. Some local companies that export are preparing to take a major hit as countries retaliate President Trump's newly imposed tariff on steel and aluminum. 

Trump proposes shifting USDA and FDA roles

Meat + Poultry | Posted on June 28, 2018

The White House released a proposal on June 21 that would shift all food safety functions to the US Dept. of Agriculture while moving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to a new Bureau of Economic Growth within the Dept. of Commerce. Merging the Depts. of Education and Labor into a single also was among the proposed reforms.